Justice Minister Sergio Moro. Photo: Shutterstock

Justice Minister Sergio Moro has issued a decree that could easily place him among the world’s hardliners on immigration. The new rules, published in the government’s Federal Register on Friday, brings in much tougher rules on foreign nationals who are suspected of crimes—including the possibility of summary deportation, with a suspect’s defense having only 48 hours to plead a case.

</p> <p>The decree refers to &#8220;suspects,&#8221; meaning that only a formal accusation is necessary for the government to be allowed to summarily deport someone. All it takes is an ongoing investigation into the person (in Brazil or abroad), or for there to be &#8220;intelligence information from a Brazilian or foreign authority.&#8221; The list of crimes of which suspects can be expelled from the country includes terrorism, involvement in organized crime, drug- or human-trafficking, and sexual exploitation of minors.</p> <p>It means that whenever a foreign government claims that a person living in Brazil is suspect of one of the mentioned crimes, Brazilian authorities could immediately repatriate—or deport—the accused. Moreover, the deportation act will be sealed, which could prevent public oversight over who is being sent back to a possibly threatening situation.</p> <p>Several experts have criticized the decree—which has the suggestive number 666. &#8220;It can be classified as an anti-immigrant move, which violates the presumption of innocence and due process,&#8221; Karina Quintanilha, an expert in migratory law, <a href="https://www.conjur.com.br/2019-jul-26/portaria-deportacao-afronta-direitos-dizem-especialistas">told</a> legal news website <em>Conjur</em>.</p> <h2>Will Moro manage to curb potential abuses?</h2> <p>The decree does say that &#8220;no one shall be prevented from entering Brazil (nor be repatriated or summarily deported) for their race, religion, nationality, or political opinion.&#8221; However, by stating that any suspect—without need for a conviction—can be considered, it creates a loophole for illiberal regimes to mask political persecution with any criminal charge. It remains to be seen how the Justice Ministry will curb abuses by foreign nations.</p> <p>One such case comes to mind.&nbsp;</p> <p>Back in April, the <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2019/05/09/brazil-turkey-erdogan-extradition/">Federal Police arrested Turkish-Brazilian restaurant owner Ali Sipahi</a>, after an extradition request from his country of origin. The 31-year-old is accused of involvement in conspiracy and terrorism due to his links with the Gülen movement—also known as Hizmet—inspired by exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.</p> <p>Mr. Gülen is regarded by the increasingly authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an enemy of the state, where Hizmet is classified as a terrorist organization. However, the accusations against Ali Sipahi himself were desperately thin, with the only evidence being a transfer of approximately BRL 1,100 to the now-defunct Asya bank in 2014.</p> <p>The arrest of Ali Sipahi was poorly received in Brazil, with pundits left bewildered as to the motivation behind it. Demétrio Magnoli, a columnist at <em>O Globo </em>newspaper, claimed that Brazil’s democracy was serving as “vassal to a tyrant” by acting on President Erdoğan’s extradition request.</p> <p>A month after his arrest, Mr. Sipahi was released by order of the Supreme Court—but now his situation, such as that of other Hizmet members, becomes foggy again.

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PowerJul 27, 2019

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BY Gustavo Ribeiro

Gustavo is the founder of The Brazilian Report, and is an award-winning journalist with experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets.